It's easy to get lulled into thinking you're protecting your digital devices. You use complex passwords and passphrases, you use a virtual private network (VPN) when you're on public Wi-Fi and you have an antivirus program installed.
Apple has managed to shrink its mobile computing experience down into a wristwatch through the Apple Watch. Now on Series 4, the Apple Watch is more powerful and capable than ever before. You already know it does a lot more than tell the time, so let’s explore what features you should be tapping into.
The Series 4 watch is especially notable for its health advancements, including fall detection and electrocardiogram (ECG) readings that help you keep better tabs on your health and safety.
Looking beyond health, there are ways to harness your Apple Watch’s features to stay in closer touch with friends, family and colleagues, customize its look, and calm down when you’re feeling stressed. Some feature are only available with the Series 4 watches, but also make sure you’ve upgraded to the latest watchOS 5.
Apple’s watchOS 5 brought a cool sci-fi-style improvement to the Siri watch interface. You can still activate Siri by holding down on the digital crown, but there’s another way to get the voice assistant’s attention, so long as you have an Apple Watch Series 3 or later. The Raise to Speak feature lets you simply raise your wrist up to talk to Siri.
To turn on the wrist-raising feature, tap on Settings, tap on General, and then Siri. Choose Raise to Speak. With this option on, you don’t need to say "Hey Siri" anymore. Just raise up your wrist, hold the watch near your mouth and talk to Siri.
The Apple Watch Series 4 introduced an intriguing new fall-detection feature. The watch takes a series of steps when it detects a hard fall. It taps your wrist, sounds an alarm and shows an alert on the screen along with the option to tell it you’re OK, or to contact emergency services. If the watch detects that you’re not moving, it will automatically call emergency services and notify your emergency contacts with your location.
To turn fall detection off or on, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, tap on My Watch and then tap on Emergency SOS. Tap the slider next to Fall Detection.
Apple Watches dating back to Series 1 can follow your heart rate, a key part of the watch’s fitness-tracking capabilities. While you can check your heart rate on the watch, you can also set up notifications for when your heart rate goes above or below a certain number of beats per minute (BPM).
There’s an option to set up notifications when you first start up the Heart Rate app on your watch, but you can also control the alerts at any time through your iPhone. Tap on the Apple Watch app, tap on My Watch and then tap on Heart. Here you can set the high heart rate and low heart rate notification levels. You can also turn on notifications for irregular heart rhythms on the same screen.
With watchOS 5, you have more options than ever to change up the look of your watch face. Choose from bright images or eye-catching animations. To change it, go to your current watch face and swipe from left or right from one edge to the other. Stop on the new watch face you want. You will find everything from a fire animation to faces that mimic classic, traditional watch looks. Pick one that fits your personality. You can switch it up whenever you like.
One of the watch faces you can choose from is called Breathe. It ties in with Apple’s Breathe app, which guides you through breathing exercises to help you relax and focus. It’s a good way to calm yourself down when you’re feeling stressed. You can open the Breathe app from the watch home screen, or select the Breathe option when changing your watch face.
The Breathe watch face displays a soothing animation. You can time your breathing to match the movement whenever you need a quick reminder to relax. You can also choose between three different styles: classic, calm, or focus. To get to the app, tap on the Breathe watch face.
The Walkie-Talkie feature is new for watchOS 5. It requires both you and the person you want to talk to to have a Watch Series 1 or later running the most recent operating system. You also both need to have FaceTime set up and working between you on your iPhones.
Open the Walkie-Talkie app and tap on the plus sign. This will send your friend an invitation. Once accepted, you can tap on that friend in the app to start a Walkie-Talkie conversation. Just hold down the talk button, speak and wait for your friend to connect and respond. It’s a much cooler version of the old-fashioned handheld walkie-talkies you may already be familiar with.
It’s convenient to get alerts, notifications and calls on your Apple Watch, but what happens if you left the sound on and you’re in a meeting or watching a movie in the theater? You can quickly quiet your watch by enabling the Cover to Mute feature. Then just rest your palm on top of the watch display for three seconds. You will feel a confirmation tap from the watch.
To turn this feature on, open your Apple Watch app on your iPhone, choose My Watch and then tap on Sounds & Haptics. Tap on Cover to Mute to turn it on or off.
The Apple Watch is about as cutting edge as you can get when it comes to technology you wear on your wrist. Try out these features and make sure you’re getting the most out of your Apple investment.
Android tablets are multipurpose gadgets. Your tablet can be your television, your gaming console, your eBook reader, your cookbook and your office assistant. You could easily get lost in browsing the Play Store for apps, but we’ve got some recommendations that have garnered high reviews and earned their popularity.
These apps can expand what your Android tablet is capable of, from helping you manage your finances to keeping you motivated and productive. You can even learn a new language or just kick back with a fun and challenging game.
The extra screen size on a tablet can be especially nice when you’re tackling a detailed gaming environment, editing photos, or sketching out a drawing. Check out these highly rated and creative apps that are perfect for your Android tablet.
Technology is always marching onward, but that doesn’t mean old devices have to end up at the recycler or gathering dust in a dark corner. There are plenty of creative ways to repurpose an outdated Android tablet once it’s retired from regular service.
With decluttering being all the rage, you may have come across an unused tablet in a drawer. That's good news. It can help out around the house by becoming a cool piece of decor, a key part of your home security system, or the perfect way to wake up in the morning.
Even gadgets with outdated operating systems can be put to use. Check out these five ways to make that old tablet feel young again.
A classic re-use for an old tablet is to turn it into a digital photo frame. It can display a static photo that you can change out whenever your feel like it, but it’s even more fun to go for a slideshow with a selection of your favorite snaps. You can simply use the slideshow option in Google Photos, or download a fancier app fit for the purpose.
There are quite a few digital photo frame apps available in the Play Store, but check out Fotoo, which has picked up quite a few positive reviews. This flexible app lets you set photo transition effects, display the weather and schedule auto-play times. You can load the photos from a variety of sources since it supports your tablet’s photo gallery as well as Google Photos, Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive.
Your tablet can become a watchful eye for your home. The Alfred Video Surveillance app is popular for a good reason. It’s a favorite of Android fans and is compatible even with older devices, so long as they’re running Android 2.3 or up. You can use it as part of a home security system, or as a pet-cam to check in on Fluffy while you’re at work.
Alfred lets you stream live video remotely and set up motion-sensor alerts. There’s also a walkie-talkie mode so you can interact with people or pets through your tablet. The app is free, but you can pay to upgrade to remove ads or subscribe to a monthly premium service for more advanced features like HD viewing and recording, zoom and motion-detection scheduling.
Your old tablet could be perfect as a dedicated e-reader. Take a few minutes to clean off any extraneous apps that may still be lingering on it and leave just what you need for accessing eBooks. The Google Play Books app is one to keep, but you can also load the Amazon Kindle app for Android. The OverDrive app for borrowing books is another great idea if your local library supports it.
Your old Android tablet can become your new bedside companion. This can be a big upgrade from an old-school alarm clock. You could use the tablet’s built-in alarm features, or you can download an app. Here are a few fun, free and effective apps:
AMdroid Alarm Clock for Heavy Sleepers: This is the app for anyone who is definitely not a morning person. While it’s highly customizable, one of the more interesting features is the ability to challenge you with math problems to encourage you to fully wake up instead of just hitting snooze over and over again.
Alarm Clock Xtreme Free: This app has a lot of overlap with the Alarm Clock for Heavy Sleepers, including the math problems feature. You can use this app to wake up to your favorite music and put a limit on the number of times you hit snooze.
Alarmy: Alarmy proudly proclaims itself as the world’s most annoying alarm clock app. It has quite a few tricks up its sleeve that will get you up and moving. Photo Mode, for example, requires you to get out of bed and snap an image of a preset location in your home to get the alarm to turn off.
The best part about using your old tablet for an alarm clock is that you won’t fret if you accidentally knock it onto the floor while flailing for the snooze button.
Here’s an unusual use for your old tablet if you live in an area impacted by earthquakes. You can contribute to the University of California at Berkeley’s earthquake research by downloading the free MyShake app developed by its Seismological Laboratory.
The app uses your tablet’s accelerometer to detect earthquakes. You can just install it and leave your tablet in an out-of-the-way location and let it do its thing, or check it to see what sort of data the MyShake network has been reporting.
UC Berkeley hopes the app could one day contribute to an earthquake early warning system. You can find out more through the MyShake website.
As we’ve downsized our technology onto portable smartphones, scanners have become less common in homes. That might not be an issue most of the year, but we’re coming up on tax time and you probably have a stack of documents you would like to digitize to make tax prep easier. It’s time to break out your iPhone and discover how it can be used as a document scanner.
There is more than one way to harness the power of your iPhone’s camera to scan documents. You can either use its built-in abilities or download an app. Apple introduced a nifty document scanning feature with iOS 11 in 2017, but you have to know where to find it.
While scanning is great for gathering your receipts and other critical tax-time paperwork, you can use it year-round to help you declutter your paper piles, capture back-up copies of important documents, and for sharing files with colleagues or clients. Let’s start scanning!
Apple’s Notes app is already set up to work as a document scanner. Start a new note, or open an existing note. Touch the plus-sign icon and choose Scan Documents. If you don’t see the plus sign, make sure you’re running iOS 11 or higher and that Notes is turned on in your iCloud settings.
The scanner should be set to Auto mode. Point the camera at the document to be scanned. It will automatically seek out the corners of the documents and scan an image. In manual mode, you can adjust the focus and hit the shutter button. You will then need to adjust the corners of the document and save it.
The scanned document will now be inserted into your note. Tap on it to open it. The small square with the curved arrow lets you reorient the document. The overlapping three dots let you put the document into grayscale, black and white, or treat it as a photo. You can also crop the document further or share it through email.
The sharing button, which looks like a rectangle with an arrow pointing upward, also lets you turn the scan into a PDF, print it, copy it, or use the Markup feature. Markup lets you draw on the document, add text, or add a signature.
The Notes document scanner is simple to use and will get your documents digitized fast. If you need more capabilities than it gives you, then check out our recommendation for a powerful scanning app, CamScanner.
CamScanner is one of the highest-rated document scanning apps in Apple’s App Store. If you need more features than you can get through Notes, then this is the app to try. It’s a free download.
As with Apple’s Notes, CamScanner has an auto feature that finds the corners of your document and crops it automatically. You can quickly turn your documents into PDFs, making it easy to store and share them.
One particularly useful feature is OCR, optical character recognition, where CamScanner will recognize and extract words inside your documents. This helps with searching and editing documents. Just keep in mind that OCR isn’t perfect and doesn’t always get the words right.
CamScanner manages to pack quite a few more features into the app, including the ability to mark up a document and make template-based collages. There are also some fun extras, like a greeting-card wizard and a QR code scanner.
If you like CamScanner, you have the option to upgrade for a $4.99 per month subscription. You get more cloud storage space, no ads and the ability to export PDF files without a watermark.
Apple’s Notes app is a great starting point for basic document scanning. It’s capable and ready to go, but you can always check out CamScanner if you need to up your game. Either way, you’ll be ready to tackle your tax documents well before the filing deadline.
All the boxes are out from under the tree, the wrapping paper is off the floor, and everyone is happily playing with their new toys. That’s another great Christmas in the bag. But of course, now that the thrill of giving and receiving has worn off, there’s the step-by-step of getting your new gadgets up and running.
The new iPhone is going to be one of the hottest gifts for the holidays. Maybe you’re new to the world of Apple or maybe it’s been a while since you’ve upgraded. Either way, let’s get your new device up and running as quickly and painlessly as possible.
We’ve got great tips for you to get the basics out of the way. Then we’ll cover how to get up and running with your old information if you’re an iPhone vet, or how to get going if you’re new to the world of Apple.
Before you really dive in, it’s a good idea to plug your phone into the wall or a USB port just to make sure it’s charging. After all, who knows how long it’s been sitting in that box?
Once it’s plugged in and has a good charge, hold down the power button. You’ll see the black-and-white screen with the Apple logo, then you’ll be greeted by the Setup Assistant. This is a program that takes some basic information that your phone needs to operate before you really dive into the big stuff.
First of all, you'll set up your language, then your country or region. That helps set up your time, contacts and more.
Then, you’ll set up your Wi-Fi, configure a passcode to get into your phone, and set up Face ID or Touch ID if your phone supports it.
You’ll set up and sign in with your Apple ID, set up your iCloud account, turn on Find my iPhone (you definitely want to do this!), and get to know Siri, who may very well be your new best friend.
Finally, you'll set up Screen Time and configure updates for your iPhone.
Don’t worry about getting anything wrong or not having some information. You can always go into Settings and change that information or put it in later if need be. Apple phones are pretty hard to mess up permanently, so don’t worry about that.
Tap Get Started and you're ready to go. Pro Tip: Back up your data right away in case you run into any glitches along the way.
If you already have an iPhone, the migration can be pretty painless.
Make sure you have an iCloud or iTunes backup that’s current for your old device, then choose Restore from iCloud Backup or Restore from iTunes Backup. You’ll need to put in your Apple ID and password and wait a little bit, but all your stuff will be there when it’s done.
If your phone is new enough to run iOS 11 or 12, you can also use Quick Start. Remove your SIM card from your old device and put it in the new device. Bring the new iPhone close to the old one and you’ll be prompted to use the same Apple ID. Choose Yes, enter your password, and you can pick and choose what to move over.
If you’re just getting started on iPhone (or want a fresh start), you’ll choose Set Up As New Phone when prompted. If you’re coming over from Android, there is a Move to iOS App on the Google Play store you can use to bring your old data over.
Everything can’t make the jump—many apps only work on iPhone or Android, not both—but that will take care of things like your messages and pictures.
Otherwise, it’ll be a matter of following the prompts and punching in information when the iPhone asks for it. Your Apple ID should be an email you use frequently since that’s the keys to the kingdom: it’s your login for iTunes but also handles things like iCloud and even helps with things like recovering your account if you get locked out or recovering your phone if you lose it.
Now have fun with your new iPhone!